For a happier homeschool, stop saying these 7 things

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Right now, I am staring at my computer screen, thinking about all the reasons I can’t write these words to you. I’m too tired. My thoughts won’t come together, they keep shimmying away when I’m not looking (not unlike my preschooler at bedtime).

My ideas might not even be important enough to share with you. I just can’t do it.

That is what I am thinking. I just can’t. That’s my story.

But some stories are true, and others are just stories.

We read a lot of Mo Willems books around here, and lately Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs has been on read-and-repeat mode.

Do you know what the moral of that story is? The marvelous Mo writes: “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”

That story about me not being able to write to you right now? That is the wrong story.

Are you living in the wrong story?

We all wind up in the wrong story sometimes. Sometimes I find myself believing the story that I’m too overwhelmed to make changes, or the story that I’m too busy to do the thing I want to do, or the story that I’m not enough for all the things I’m here to do—I’m not, I think, brave enough or patient enough or creative enough.

I even put my family in the wrong story sometimes: the story that we have to stick with plans that aren’t working, or the story that we can’t just try something new.

And when you’re in the wrong story, you’re missing out on your story.

You’re not meeting the characters you need to meet, you’re not being shaped by the mentors that could teach you what you need to know, you’re not going on the quests that will let you slay your own dragons and find your own deep wisdom.

You can step into a new story any time you need to, though. If you’re stuck in a story that isn’t going anywhere good, try one of these.

New stories for a new season


The Story About Sticking to the Plan

The old story: This is how it has to be.
The new story: This is what I want to see.

If the plan isn’t working, you don’t have to keep going. What do you want things to be like? How do you want this to feel? What really matters here? Move toward those and see where you get.

The Story of Yet

The old story: I can’t do that. (Or my kid can’t do that, or our family can’t.)
The new story: I can’t do that YET.

In our family, we have a Yet Rule, and it goes like this: if you hear yourself saying “I can’t,” add a “YET” at the end of that sentence. Maybe you can’t right now. Maybe you don’t know how. Those things may be true. But they don’t have to be true forever.

The Story of Getting Started

The old story: I don’t know where to start.
The new story: I’m going to figure out how.

We are smart cookies. We can figure things out.

We have Google, for one thing. Google will give us approximately one million suggestions for how to do anything.

But we’re also allowed to just try things and see what happens. We can experiment. If our experiment doesn’t work, we try something new. That’s how we figure stuff out.

The Story of Being Overwhelmed (And What Happened Next)

The old story: Everything is too much. I’m overwhelmed.
The new story: I’m listening to my feelings and making changes.

There might really be too much of everything right now. That is a real thing.

But you don’t have to live in the story of The Overwhelmed Mom Who Couldn’t. You can try out the story of The Mom Who Listens to Her Feelings and Makes Changes instead.

(You can get my free Get Out of Overwhelm Survival Kit, too. It’ll help you get started.)

For a happier homeschool, stop saying the 7 things

The Which-Way-to-the-Goal Story

The old story: This won’t work.
The new story: This is going to work differently than I expected.

For awhile, I was living in the story of The Read-Aloud That Wasn’t. I thought “reading aloud” meant reading one chapter per day, preferably in the afternoon over a pot of tea. I couldn’t make that work, for complicated reasons having to do with little ones outgrowing naps and also me forever forgetting to brew the tea.

But that didn’t mean the read alouds couldn’t work. I just had to find a better story, the story that says we don’t have to read a whole chapter to enjoy this book, or the one that says we can get creative and find a better time to read.

The goal stayed the same. The path to get there was just different than I expected.

The “Who’s In Charge?” Story

The old story: This is not what I would have chosen.
The new story: But I get to choose how to respond.

Weirdly, we are not in control of the world or the people in it. We aren’t even in control of the people in our own families. So inconvenient!

There’s so much you don’t get to choose, but you do get to choose how you respond, and your response sets the tone for what happens next.

That’s a lot of power, even if you can’t control the universe.

The Story of the Permission Slip

The old story: I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that.
The new story: I give myself permission.

You have permission, because you are in charge of the permission slips. You can do this.

The Real Story

Living in the wrong story means you’re going to march toward the wrong conclusions, friends. I don’t want that for me, and I really don’t want that for my kids. I want to show them how to notice the story they’re living in—and to change it whenever they need to. Starting right now.

Because here’s the true story: I don’t need to wait to show up until I’m rested and ready. (That would be never.) I don’t have to stay quiet until I have bigger ideas or better ways of saying them. I just have to be faithful to this moment right here, to listen to what it’s teaching me, and to share it with you.

We’re all in this together. That’s the true story. The other one, the story that said I wasn’t ready, that what I had to share wasn’t good enough—that is not my story. (It’s not yours, either.)

We have better stories to live into.

What stories do you need to shift?







About Melissa Camara Wilkins

Melissa Camara Wilkins is a homeschooling mom of six in Southern California. She writes about being who you were made to be and letting go of the rest.


  1. I think I need to really trust that God is even bigger than I can imagine and trust Him more than I ever have . . . because I think He has bigger and bigger plans ahead for my family.

    (This post you wrote? It is awesome.)
    Anne’s latest post: A Week, Briefly (10/30/17)

    • Oh, Anne, thank you. 🙂

      I’m with you–I know I can’t see the whole picture, I trust that the whole thing is moving in the right direction, and that it’s my job is to do what I can with the little piece that’s here in front of me… even if it’s hard to remember that there is a bigger perspective when I’m down in the weeds of it! (Which it is. So hard!)
      Melissa Camara Wilkins’s latest post: How Do You Do It All? Four Tricks That Help

  2. I looove this. Changing the story is so hard but comes easier with practice. I love the YET story. The changes and challenges of all the parts is so hard. Thank you for sharing this and knowing we aren’t alone.
    Jen’s latest post: Gift Guide for the Instant Pot Obsessed Homeschool Mom

  3. You really have no idea how much I needed this today (this week really). Thank you. You have such excellent advice and suggestions. Thank you. I am saving this to re-read often.

  4. Fantastic, and oh so timely! I’m off to write these down and super glue them into my planner. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  5. This was soooo good! Thank you for being faithful to your moment and sharing your thoughts. It was exactly the emotional medicine I needed today.
    “I can work through this…breathe” is what I recently changed my “overwhelm” story to (as in yesterday).
    I LOVE your post.
    You can find my reflections on emotions and stories on my blog at

  6. I love this post — so needed … thank you.. May I ask what book that is in the picture.? It drew my eye in with the title.. “Peace of Mind.”

  7. I needed these words so badly. They have touched me deeply. I might possibly reread this post daily for the next week…or year. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Be faithful in this moment, YES. I am upset about some plans I made for a family get together that are now being hijacked by another in the family. The first point you stated made me get back in touch with my goals for the 2 day get together, to bond with gratitude on Thanksgiving and follow with a special birthday for my son. As long as I keep those goals in mind, I should be able to let go of the how.

Share Your Thoughts


CommentLuv badge

Never miss a blog post,
PLUS get Jamie’s FREE ebook: